The couple allegedly kept their 13 children in locked rooms or chains, allowing them to shower no a few times a year.
The siblings showered once a year and were chained to their beds for weeks at a time, Hestrin said.
Hestrin said the children were frequently beaten and sometimes strangled for such minor violations as washing their hands, accusing them of "playing in the water". When authorities asked the 17-year-old whether there were any pills or medication inside the house, she didn't know what those were. She took another sibling with her, who eventually got scared and turned back.
Perry, who led a team of therapists that interviewed most of the surviving children from the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, said that one 5-year-old could recite whole books of the Bible but could not identify circles and squares. A 12-year-old weighed the same as a typical 7-year-old. "The victims report that as a punishment starting many years ago they to be tied up, first with ropes". He said they would stay up all night and sleep during the day. He said that may have contributed to why the abuse went undiscovered for so long. None had ever been to a dentist. "They would buy food, including pies, apple pies, pumpkin pies, leave it on the counter, let the children look at it but not eat the food".
The children had not seen a doctor in four years, prosecutors said. They were given scant medical care, often denied use of a toilet and allowed to shower just once a year. But again, the children were not allowed to eat them. The district attorney characterized the siblings as relieved but would not elaborate. The district attorney said the siblings lacked a "basic knowledge of life".
But Louise Turpin's sister, Elizabeth Jane Flores, told ABC News on Wednesday that in hindsight there were concerning signs, including a refusal to allow family visits or talks with the children on. "They were "sweetie" this and "sweetie" that to each other".
As for the parents, she added: "They deserve no mercy whatsoever". "So, I think she might be someone who can help".
"I'm seriously so heartbroken for my nieces and nephews", she said. "Over the years, the Lord knows what happened".
Individuals held under such conditions often become so physically and emotionally weak "that they are unable to free themselves, even if an opportunity arises", said Dr. Allen Keller, who runs the Bellevue-NYU Center for Survivors of Torture in NY. They weren't skinny or nothing. "And we are combing through them".
"They are the sweetest family", said Turpin, 81.
When deputies arrived at the house Sunday in Perris, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, they were shocked by what they found. Investigators removed dozens of boxes, what appeared to be two safes and pieces of a bed frame. The treatment continued after the family moved to Murrieta - also in Riverside County - in 2010.
As a university student Flores lived with the Turpins for a while.